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Mar 14
Reviews (Eats)
Sabırtaşı’s İçli Köfte: Handmade in Beyoğlu

(Editor’s Note: We’ve recently been given access to one of Istanbul’s most inner sanctums: the kitchen of Beyoğlu’s Sabırtaşı, where we were shown how to make the restaurant’s superlative içli köfte, winner of our “Top 5 Street Foods” contest from a while back. We will be sharing the recipe on Friday, but as a warmup, we’re rerunning our original post about Sabırtaşı’s içli köfte.)

For years on İstiklal Caddesi, just beyond Galatasaray High School, in one calm spot stood the beatific Ali Bey, an angel in a white doctor’s coat offering salvation in the form of golden fried içli köfte. Though he passed away recently, Ali Bey left his post and his streetside stand — as much a part of the İstiklal streetscape as the red trolley cars that run up and down the boulevard and the belle époque apartment buildings that line it — to his son, who fills it with the same panache, white jacket and all. And thanks to Ali Bey’s wife, Fatma Hanım, the içli köfte lives on.

Known as kibbeh in the Arab world, içli köfte is a savory snack consisting of a bulgur wheat shell that holds a filling of ground meat, onions, parsley and spices. These little torpedoes are handmade upstairs by Fatma Hanım, who spends most of the day at a large table with her daughter-in-law working the stuffing into the casing before passing them on for final preparation. They chat and laugh as they work, their hands working by what appears to be instinct alone — a scene more reminiscent of a rural family kitchen than a dining room with a view of one of Istanbul’s best-known streets.

(Click here to go to the full review.)


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